Ecowas: Milestones in Regional Intergration

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University of Nebraska - Lincoln

DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Nebraska Anthropologist Anthropology, Department of

1-1-1996

Busy Corporations: The Effects of Corporations on the Environment and the Public Markus Craig

Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nebanthro Part of the Anthropology Commons Craig, Markus, "Busy Corporations: The Effects of Corporations on the Environment and the Public" (1996). Nebraska Anthropologist. Paper 91. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nebanthro/91

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Busy Corporations: The Effects of Corporations on the Environment and the Public Markus Craig

This paper is the result of one semester's research into the external costs of corporate structure, detailing some of the corporate business practices, their inherent implications, and effects on the environment and on people. This paper helps unravel the adversarial relationship between modem corporations and the environmental and labor movements in the US, concentrating on a survey of the literature of the last two decades and isolates some major themes fundamental to an understanding of this important debate. It seems that, at every tum, industry is in conflict with the natural world around it. Both humans and the environment seem to be under a never-ending onslaught from the economic community. From the tropical rainforests, to the oceans to the streets of urban America, massive financial corporations such as ADM and Mitsubishi are using loopholes in the tax codes, as well as the influence of monetary contributions to public officials, to exploit the natural world: "I feel strongly that there are lots of notorious things going on to make money-things that produce pollution, give discomfort and suffering to people in the developing countries, destroy the environment. And people do this without any hesitation.. .1 call it inhuman-anything to make money... We have to do something as soon as possible to put a stop to this" (Bando 1994:56).

cheap timber, oil, and precious minerals. As these forces advance. the forests are cut down and burned off at a steadily accelerating pace" (Chapin 1992:63). The evidence can be seen in the US as well. Well-known environmental writer Alan Durning points out that, "Since 1940 Americans alone have used up as large a share of the earth's mineral resources as all previous generations put together" (Durning, 1992:23), and "[The] amount of rural land in the United States turned over to development every day [is] nine square miles" (Durning, 1992: 148). According to the World Resources Institute, "In the last 200 years the United States has lost 50% of its wetlands, 90% of its northwestern old growth forests, 99% of its tallgrass prairie, and up to 490 species of native plants and animals, with another 9,000 now at risk" (WRl 1993:159).

Profit, having little or no respect for intrinsic beauty, human dignity or the sanctity of animal, botanical, or human life, is the driving force. This is particularly disturbing, since " .. .irrefutable evidence has mounted that there is an intricate interdependence of both the world's economy and the world's ecology" (Sitarz 1993:3). Ecologist Paul Ehrlich once expressed surprise to a Japanese journalist that the Japanese whaling industry would exterminate the very source of its wealth. The journalist replied, "You are thinking of the whaling industry as an organization that is interested in maintaining whales: actually it is better viewed as a huge quantity of [financial] capital attempting to earn the highest possible return. If it can exterminate whales in ten years and make a 15% profit, but it could only make 10% with a sustainable...
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